Online Victoria And Albert Museum – Great For Artists

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“Canada spends all spring waiting for spring to arrive.”

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I don’t know who wrote this. It was a blurb associated with a Weather Channel video.  It may be the best descriptor of how a sketcher feels in Canada when he/she looks outside.  I was supposed to go to a coffee shop to sketch this morning because it was supposed to rain.  Well, it did rain, kinda sorta.  It is currently raining ice pellets and accompanied by high winds.  As crazy as I am, I’m not crazy enough to go out in that mess.  And so I’ll write about art instead [sigh].

Indoor art it is.  I’m probably the only guy on Earth to discover the Victoria and Albert Museum’s online resource, but I got excited when I found it.  I haven’t seen an online resource that provides such high-resolution graphics of museum holdings, allowing the user to zoom and scroll over the work.

Here’s an example and one I’ve started to work from, a sculpture by Aime-Jules Dalou of a woman nursing her child.  If you click on the website image you’ll find several images of the statue and the ability to scroll around them, zoom into them.  I decided not to do the entire statue but rather to zoom in, rotate a bit and capture a more typical portrait graphic.  This was the result.

I’ve only started on the drawing and stopped with a very light massing in of tone.  I stopped because I’m not sure if I want to complete it with pencil, the original idea, or to do watercolor washes to capture the sepia look of the statue.   This is done on Stonhenge paper, though, so I’ll probably proceed with pencil, taking me down yet another road where I have little experience.  I did increase the contrast of this scan somewhat because many of the lines are very light.  Hopefully working on this will mitigate my frustration of those ice pellets hitting my window.

Significant Event <-> Trivial Result

I’ve mentioned before that this blog is as much me documenting my sketching events as presenting great art work.  This is fortunate as I have very little great art work to present.  But here in Quebec we’ve lived through some of the most strict anti-COVID policies for two years.  We’re still partially limited in what we can/can’t do and still use vaccination passports and wear masks everywhere.  And, right or wrong, we’ve all become trained NOT to go anywhere.

But the last few days has brought relief from our bitter cold and so I’ve gone out walking, mostly in the snow and rain but as the temps have been right around freezing, I’ve enjoyed it.  Anyways, I walked through the farmer’s market that’s right down the street from where I live the other day.  The place is dead right now due to people not going out but also because there are no farmers there selling stuff so aside from a few permanent stores, there’s not much to be had there.

There is a place that sells coffee, though.  It’s located along a big hallway and there are some places to sit on the opposite side of the hallway.  There were two women sitting there when I showed up.  I decided to get a coffee and draw them.  I sat down, got my little 4×6 scribble book out, marked the top/bottom of her head and…they both got up to leave.  I quickly sketched a face from “memory” and that’s what you see in the middle of this sketch.

Then I was alone, nobody to sketch.  I was thinking of drawing one of the tables when a woman walked down the hallway.. so in the few seconds she was visible, I drew the back of her head.  Then another person walked by… another few seconds of scribbling.  Each of the people gave me 5-10 seconds to draw them so the results aren’t great.  But this was my first foray into a coffee place in two years and so this was downright exciting.  I had to post this miserable sketchbook page for posterity.

While I’m posting, here are some other quick sketches I’ve done.  There’s no rhyme or reason associated with them.  Done on the fly and on a whim.

Here I found an Indigo Prismacolor pencil, decided to sharpen it for some reason and this led me to draw a bit with it.

I’m quite excited about the prospects of getting out sketching again.  Hopefully spring is coming early this year.  I’ll be posting a massive oil paint project I’ve been doing soon.  Just need to turn everything into digital images and I’ll post them.

Field Sketching vs Oil Painting

The title of this post is probably a misnomer, but I can’t think of a better one.  Truth is, I’m comparing what I’ve done as a field sketcher to what I’ve tried to do as a neophyte oil painter.  Sort of apples and oranges but the apple and orange were both done by me and they’re both apples.  Does that make sense (grin)?

Ok…it was September of 2020 and a lull in COVID lockdown was in the air.  We went apple picking at an orchard on the south side of the St. Lawrence.  Everyone was enjoying being outdoors, climbing picking ladders and filling bags with apples.  I relied on my family for the picking while I wandered around looking for just the right view of apples and a mix of leaves.  I’m sure people thought I was nuts as I walked around and around trees, moving from one to another without picking a single apple.  But I found the spot.  So I sat down on my tripod stool and drew this with my fountain pen (S&B Beta sketchbook).

When I got home I added watercolor.

Fast-forward to 2022… and we’re in lockdown (again) because of Omicron.  I wondered what would happen if I tried to replicate one of my sketches with my very limited oil painting skills.  So, I applied a couple light coats of gesso to an S&B Beta sketchbook and went to work, using pencil to draw the closest replica I could from the original watercolor.

I’ve got to say that my limited abilities reared their head when it came to replicating the original.  Also, my pen and wash style relies so heavily on the pen lines to convey their msg that I struggled more than a little bit without them.  Still, the result kinda sorta looks like the original, though the watercolor apples look better to me.

This was an interesting experiment.  Painting in a sketchbook with oils works pretty well except you can’t close the sketchbook for a couple days.  This might slow me down as a street sketcher (grin).

 

 

Doing A Bit Of Pencil Pushing

Like many artists, I collect things to draw, or at least that’s the excuse I use.  Along the top of every bookshelf in my office/studio are crammed old bottles, vases, skulls, diecast cars, animal figurines and statues of all sorts.  In the old days, pre-pandemic, I loved to visit flea markets and garage sales, looking for something I “needed.” A few years ago I found a plaster head that I think is Japanese.  As I recall it cost me a buck, maybe two. Like so many of the items that I’ve bought to draw, I’ve never drawn this head… until this weekend.  Here’s the result.  The time spent was well worth the $2 purchase price.

Pencil/Art Experiments

Back before blogs and such artists could decide to learn something brand new and experiment to their hearts content without anyone knowing they were doing it.  When one has a blog, however, there’s still a desire on the part of the blogger, as well as his two followers, to continue to post “results.”  This is balanced by another desire, a desire to not embarrass oneself (grin).

I’ve mentioned that I was doing lots of experiments with pencil and, as a pen driver, how disappointed I’ve been with the results.  But I’ve now had three emails asking why I wasn’t posting those experiments.  I’ll try to explain.

They are experiments.  When Edison did his proverbial 2000 attempts to develop the light bulb he didn’t report failures or even partial successes.  The modern way of looking at art these days is that we say “It’s all about the process,” but most people still believe that it’s about the product and the internet underscores that belief.

So, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I’ve scraped together a few of those experiments.  I confess that most of these things get thrown in the garbage and are done on photocopy paper.  I don’t digitize them, don’t display them, and, frankly, I don’t think much about them as most of the thinking is done while I’m doing them.  I’m learning, or trying to, how to use pointy devices that aren’t fountain pens.

Here’s the tool kit I’ve been using.  I added the large charcoal holder because I have it on my desk and sometimes do really quick sketches of something or other that’s part of a YouTube video I’m watching.  From left to right is 1) Blackwing pencil, 2) General charcoal pencil, 3) Prismacolor black, 4)&5) Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils, 6) Derwent water-soluble pencil, 7) Monol Zero eraser, 8-11) Mars-Lumograph 3H HB 4B and 8B pencils, 9) Ticonderoga #2 soft pencil.

All the capped pencils have very long points, sharpened with a knife.  I carry small pieces of sandpaper to sharpen them.  Oh…the charcoal holder is an old Cretacolor holder that I love.  I tried to find a source to get another one but I could only find a metal one from Cretacolor.  I love the wood handle of the one I have.

Ok….as I said, I throw most of my experiments away but here’s what was laying on my desk from yesterday.

The tree sketch has nothing to do with the sketches to the left or right, the car was just an imaginary car because I picked up an Indigo pencil and wanted to see how it worked.  You might begin to see why I throw these experiments away.  Yes, I could do them on separate pages in a sketchbook but, once again, these are experiments, not products.

I was watching an artist interview and they were showing some of the artist’s work.  One was a portrait of a woman.  I picked up that big Cretacolor charcoal holder and started quickly sketching her.  I had about 2 minutes and, as you can see, I ran out of time.  Still, these quick attempts are invaluable in better training my visual cortex.

Ok…I looked in my sketchbooks, and I found these few sketches.  In a toned book I found this one.  All I can recall is that someone was doing a life-drawing portrait and I drew this one.  I worked quickly and spent no more than 15 minutes on it.  It shows 🙂

I had my Bargue book out and decided to quickly (emphasis here) draw the Bargue planar eye page.  My experiment was to see if I could “see” all the angles quickly (no measurement or analysis).  My performance was, at best, ok.

This gave me the idea to draw some real eyes and so I turned to the internet again, simply pausing videos when I got a close up image I could draw.  These two were the results of that experiment.

I do apologize for not posting more regularly but, as you can see, there isn’t much in finished products coming from my pencil drawing.  Maybe I need to get a pen out (grin).